Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Old Post Creates A New Slate

The Washington Post is the oldest newspaper in DC, but it is still around.

Still around at a time when many newspapers are in financial trouble, as are many of the individuals and businesses those papers serve.

One of The Post's journalists, Gene Robinson recently won a Pulitzer.

And The Post was even able to purchase Slate Magazine from Microsoft.

Slate Magazine, then, has a reputable genealogy one could say.

But some of Slate's readers became a bit concerned when Slate covered the fact that a certain actor appearing in a TV movie or series about 9/11 was a "9/11 truther".

Some of you Dredd Blog readers no doubt became a bit concerned when the story of a 9/11 truther's letter to the FBI and the FBI's response was posted here.

Relax, please, we do not ask you to believe or not to believe blog posts, we just put them out there for you to read if you choose to.

Holder Your Horses

A lot of people are talking about whether those who torture should be held to answer.

Government officials have been saying yes and no.

But the seats in the photo are still empty.

Who really is The Decider?

The 5th Amendment says that the people are to decide who is to be prosecuted for bigga badda boom crimes.

The decision process is called a Grand Jury process.

Then after that grand jury decides there is sufficient reason to prosecute, a petite jury is provided by the 6th Amendment.

Thus, when it comes to who is to be prosecuted for the American crime of torture, our law has always required that two juries of the people are mandated to be the deciders.

This is the fundamental law of our land contained in TWO constitutional amendments.

So, before Obama looks in any direction, and before Holder feels his heart, each of them should remember who elected them and who must ultimately decide this issue.

Fill up the empty jury seats already.

Anything else is clear and convincing evidence of corruption already.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Penalty For Torture Can Be Death

Our United States criminal statutes (not war crimes statutes in the Geneva Conventions) concerning torture say:
Section 2340. Definitions

As used in this chapter -

(1) "torture" means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

(2) "severe mental pain or suffering" means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from -
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;

(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;

(C) the threat of imminent death; or

(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality;
and

(3) "United States" includes all areas under the jurisdiction of the United States including any of the places described in sections 5 and 7 of this title and section 46501(2) of title 49.
(18 USC 2340). If behaviour fits that definition, then:
Section 2340A. Torture

(a) Offense. - Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

(b) Jurisdiction. - There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if -
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
(c) Conspiracy. - A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
(18 USC 2340A, emphasis added). It is clear to me why those who conspired to commit torture, as well as those who did the torture are desperately lying and trying to cover up.

Under this statute conspirators could receive up to life in prison, while anyone who physically causes physical death of a prisoner could be put to death.

What this statute shows is that our nation takes the notion of torture very, very seriously and it is clear that it was a signal to anyone who would try to change the reputation of America in the world that it could cost them their lives.

Pop Cornyn Time Again For Minnesota

The oral argument before the Minnesota Supreme Court will have to wait until June 1 of this year.

Their decision will follow sometime after that in the summer. If the case is reversed it could be next year before there is an end to it.

If they affirm Franken as the winner Pop Cornyn and Coleman will take the case to the US Supreme Court hoping for another Bush v Gore which gave us Bush II, the gift that keeps on giving us torture news and bad economic news, not to mention endless wars.

That could mean further delays to a decision as well. What a drama, what a movie. Is there a better way?

Affectionately called "The election that should have been over last year" or "The EI movement's favorite movie", Coleman v Franken is the longest election in Minnesota's history.

Instead of seeing this election as the disaster it really is, the Brad Blog has unabashedly said:
Franken Declared 'Winner,' But Final Certification Will Likely (and Appropriately) be Delayed ... Excellent provision in MN law ... A very good provision in MN's law --- not found in most other states --- may delay Franken's seating, meaning he will not be sworn in with rest of Congress at the beginning of the new session slated to start tomorrow. Ultimately, however, the provisions should ensure that whoever is eventually sworn in to serve as the state's Senator will not be forced to serve under a cloud ... Would that all of the other states in the union had such a provision ... The voters of MN deserve that much, no matter how long it takes ...
(January 5 Thread, emphasis added). Come on Brad Blog, publicly admit for the sake of your readers that you were wrong.

Every other state you have publicly dissed, by making obviously erroneous statements, have all finished their elections last year. As it should be.

Minnesota legislators, get out your thinking caps and fix this problem. You do not need EI weathermen to know which way the wind blows.

UPDATE: Minnesota voters agree with Dredd Blog and overwhelmingly disagree with Brad Blog.

I Disagree With Naomi Wolf

Just following orders is ok
I agree with Arianna Huffington's Article that the world is watching our debate about the torture years.

Arianna knows that our decision will have serious consequences as to how the world perceives it should deal with us.

Let's be clear that Dredd Blog fully disagrees with progressive Naomi Wolf's statement:
"Should we prosecute the agents who committed the torture? We should not"
(Huffpo). I also disagree with conservative Peggy Noonan.

Both Naomi and Peggy argue that we should not prosecute agents who conducted torture contrary to our clear law.

As Arianna pointed out, this is a critical juncture where world opinion, like a titanic ship, is very slowly turning back in our favour since we began to change our foreign policy.

We must not stop that very slow turning now, because it would leave the world's opinion of us dead in the water.

That would have serious negative ramifications for many years to come.

Imagine a neighbourhood of families who have lived there for generation after generation. This represents the world.

Older, well built houses with many different styles have been constructed throughout the neighbourhood over many years. In fact, some churches and mosques in the neighbourhood are in fact many hundreds of years old and are still in use.

People in this neighbourhood have few weapons, one to a household is the norm.

Then one year a new family moves into the neighbourhood, and builds a new house. This represents the US.

This new family talks about freedom, human rights, and peace, yet they own slaves. This is frowned on in general in the neighbourhood.

But the new family has a fight amongst themselves, and they eventually get rid of the slavery issue. Good, the neighbourhood concludes.

But lo and behold, in the new family's new 10 room house the new family begins to use 5 of those rooms for guns and ammunition. While they still talk of peace and freedom.

But since they also seem willing to help protect the neighbourhood with those weapons from time to time when the neighbourhood is threatened, their strange love and excess of things that go boom is for the most part overlooked.

But then some of the teens in the family break into a house down the street, shoot some of the people, bring some of them back, and lock them up in their basement. Then they torture them and they declare themselves to be the police of the neighbourhood.

Then the new family begins a quarrel amongst themselves about whether that was the right thing for the teens to do and whether or not the teens should be punished and corrected.

Of course this symbolic example above is not a perfect symbolism, however, one can easily surmise the point I am trying to make about it being important what the neighbours think.

Especially if we add the ingredient that everyone in the neighbour hood works on collective farms and trade amongst themselves for the financial well being of all.

If we become financially and otherwise ostracised it could be serious to our well being. Having all those guns will not suffice to make the neighbourhood fond of us and favourable toward us.

There are signs that the neighbourhood is having negative reactions already.

If we let the teens run wild with their guns and let them get away with torturing people in the neighbourhood, after we agreed not to, our credibility will suffer a serious set back.

Naomi Wolf's article says only high ups were prosecuted for war crimes at Nuremberg. That avoids the fact that enemy soldiers were prosecuted and put to death for water boarding at that time:
"McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as 'water cure,' 'water torture' and 'waterboarding,' according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning." Politifact went on to report, "A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps."
(Politifacts, Huffpo). Those who were "only following orders", or otherwise doing what they were told, and who then obediently tortured prisoners were prosecuted.

Is Naomi Wolf advocating a different justice for white collar elites than for poor and middle class violators?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Lawyer Said I Could

The plea of not guilty because "my lawyer said I could torture" is sure to bring a laugh at any plea hearing on a criminal indictment in the federal courts.

At best
.

It is more likely to bring a proceeding to determine mental fitness to stand trial.

Yet that pseudo, fake defense, in the torture crime scandal, is seriously being bantered about for public consumption in the MSM (main stream media).

My guess is that it is a prequel to determine if they can sell it to the public at large.

"A lawyer told me I could rob the bank, rape the woman, beat the child, steal the car, or embezzle the money from my boss" is not a defense to a crime.

Even "God told me to" or "the devil made me do it" is not a defense to commission of a crime.

All that a prosecutor needs to do is prove that a CIA agent, FBI agent, or soldier tortured a detainee and a crime has been proven.

It is to zero, nada, none, zilch, zip effect if the defendant thereafter proves that his lawyer said it was ok to do the torture.

It will be easy for AG Holder to prove crimes of torture and who did it in many cases.

It will not be easy for him to try to excuse those who tortured prisoners because their lawyer told them they could do it.

Yep, Obama is the only thing between the torture criminals and "the folks with the pitchforks".

Whatever Works? It Works For Me?

The person who allows strong passions to lead them to rape experiences some release. "It works for me" they will say. That makes it ok?

The person who is in dire economic straits, weakens, and then commits robbery of a bank and solves the money problem. "It works for me" they will say. That makes it ok?

Sometimes a parent who is on edge gets pushed over when the child "misbehaves one time too many". The parent then hurts the child and feels release of some sort. "It works for me" they will say. That makes it ok?

The racist calls a person of another race a *#@^*! and feels better. "It works for me" they will say. That makes it ok?

A politician or lawyer in an ivory tower in DC orders minions in the field to torture people who are accused of being an enemy. "It works for me" the torture gang will say. That makes it ok?

ENOUGH OF THIS NETWORK NEWS NONSENSE!!

Our criminal law is based upon whether or not behaviour is good for our society we call America. It is not based on whether or not it satisfies animalistic cravings of a few lunatics in DC ivory towers.

The MSM is proving to once again be the puppet of the corrupt status quo that loves to torture our ears because it works for them.

That does not make it ok MSM; learn to report news not try to make news to exonerate the banana republic thugs who run your tortured discourse.

Dick Cheney created the torture defense "It works for me".

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tortured Record of Bush II Torture Policy

Camp Sicko
The Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Carl Levin on which John McCain is the ranking republican member, today released its final report entitled INQUIRY INTO THE TREATMENT OF DETAINEES IN U.S. CUSTODY (hereinafter referred to as "Inquiry").

The link above is to the unclassified report in PDF format, and is about 15 megabytes in size.

The Inquiry covers the very beginning of the tortured torture episode of the Bush II regime:
From the time of their ratification until the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the United States government had accepted the terms of the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. military had trained its personnel to apply the Conventions during wartime.
(Inquiry, page 1). But then "along came Jones" says the song, and in this case "Jones" was the lawyers:
Soon after the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), however, Administration lawyers constructed a new legal framework that abandoned the traditional U.S. application of the Geneva Conventions.
(Inquiry, page 1, emphasis added). The Geneva Conventions were and are our law, because treaties become our law upon their ratification by 2/3 of congress and signature by the president.

One wonders, then, if these lawyers were of the same ilk and background as those who turned the DOJ into the Department of Just Us? On with this tortured story:
According to Jack Goldsmith, Special Counsel in the Department of Defense (2002-2003) and Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel (2003-2004): "never in the history of the United States had lawyers had such extraordinary influence over war policies as they did after 9/11. The lawyers weren't necessarily expert on al Qaeda, or Islamic fundamentalism, or intelligence, or international diplomacy, or even the requirements of national security. But the lawyers --- especially White House and Justice Department lawyers - seemed to 'own' issues that had profound national security and political and diplomatic consequences." These Administration lawyers "dominated discussions on detention, military commissions, interrogation, GTMO, and many other controversial terrorism policies." Jack Goldsmith, The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration (New York: W.w. Norton & Company 2(07) at 130-31 (hereinafter "Goldsmith, The Terror Presidency").
(Inquiry, page 1, footnote 1, emphasis added). Damn the experts, damn American tradition and law, damn reality, full speed backwards is the way I interpret their mindset.

Those who forget the wisdom of history and who forget the toxins within power will always become corrupt, no matter what fancy clubs they may belong to.

Evidently the CIA lawyer who helped the Bush II lawyers draw up torture-is-ok documents still works at the CIA.

Obama, this Panetta guy you appointed to head CIA has got to look up from his desk and smell the stench and get rid of it.

Happy Earth Day

This post was moved to the Ecocosmology Blog.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Warrantless Searches - Unreasonable

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision today, stated that: "Warrantless searches 'are per se unreasonable, subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions'.” Katz v. United States, 389 U. S. 347, 357 [1967]." (Arizona v Gant, 07-542, decided 4/21/09).

This was a case dealing with the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

More specifically, it concerned the warrant-less search of a vehicle incident to an arrest.

Hey, isn't a wiretap and similar electronic surveillance a "search", and therefore a warrant-less "wiretap" is a violation of the 4th Amendment?

In Olmstead v US 277 U.S. 438 (1928),  the U.S. Supreme Court said no, electronic surveillance is not a search.

Oops.

In Katz v US, supra, in 1967 the US Supreme Court overruled Olmstead, and said, yes, electronic surveillance is a search.

Any such electronic surveillance without a warrant is per se unreasonable.

Thus, in the NSA electronic surveillance cases (which include AT&T, Verizon, and some other telecoms as defendants) the burden should be on the government to show why all those NSA wiretaps without warrants are legal.

Warrant-less wiretaps are per se illegal still according to today's ruling in the US Supreme Court.

UPDATE: See: ACLU vs. Clapper, Alexander, Hagel, Holder, and Mueller - 8

The next post in this series is here.

Independent Attorney General - Why?

Office holders in the United States must take an oath pursuant to US law, as follows:
I, _______, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
(5 USC 3331, emphasis added). The text shows that the duty is not to any person, the duty is to the US Constitution. The oath takes into consideration that there are enemies of the constitution within the United States.

Well then, pursuant to the supreme law of our land, the US Constitution, we are to know this about any treaty we adopt:
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
(US Constitution, Article VI, emphasis added). This means that the treaty or treaties we signed that outlaw torture are our law, American law.

Thus The UN Ban on Torture and The Geneva Conventions are the law of our land.

Upon his confirmation by the US Senate, Eric Holder said:
There has to be a distance between me and the president, but I want to assure you and the American people that I will be an independent attorney general ... I will be the people's lawyer.
(Voice of America). We know where he got this idea. Is it a principle found in the constitution, other laws of the United States, and his oath of office.

Does Obama now hold the same views, since he as president now says he as president will decide who will be prosecuted for heinous acts of torture? The people will not decide?

Hasn't the president publicly declared that he has decided that no one shall be prosecuted for being told to torture and then following those orders?

We can surmise that AG Holder's comments quoted above were directed at responding to the anger of the American people for Bush II regime behaviour.

Clearly the attorney general's office during the Bush II regime was a puppet tool used by Bush II and Cheney to do their will instead of the will of the people.

The people punished the republican party in the election for allowing itself to become the party of big brother and the Beavis & Butthead twins.

But why has that changed? Why is the Attorney General no longer the lawyer for the people but instead the tool for the White House?

Could it be the unthinkable again which has become the norm in these corrupt United States?

At this rate, the new saying is going to become "I am not free, I am not free at last".

UPDATE: David Shuster on MSNBC is reporting that after a meeting with The King Of Jordan reporters asked President Obama about these prosecutions and he said he did not want to prejudge whether or not prosecutions should take place. That is for the Attorney General to decide he said.

Good! That is how it should be.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pop Cornyn Is Winning In Minnesota

It is official, Coleman will appeal in Minnesota's senate election that should have been over last year.

The old man wizard behind the curtain, with all the smoke, noise, and mirrors is Senator "Pop" Cornyn.

He is the chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee and he wants to take the Coleman case to the US Supreme Court.

He wants a Bush v Gore type of upset so that Norm Coleman can be seated by the conservative US Supreme Court.

Other posts about that election begin here.

Big Brother & The Two Edged Sword

The head of the House Intelligence Committee who allowed Americans to be spied on got caught in the web she helped weave:
Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”
(CQ Politics, link below). A corrupt banana republic regime never passes up on an opportunity to blackmail to get their way.

That practice comes directly from the J. Edgar Hoover "why we wire tap" textbook. A "good wire tap" is one that can be used for political hay. So the regime took it up a notch:
And that, contrary to reports that the Harman investigation was dropped for “lack of evidence,” it was Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush’s top counsel and then attorney general, who intervened to stop the Harman probe.

Why? Because, according to three top former national security officials, Gonzales wanted Harman to be able to help defend the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about break in The New York Times and engulf the White House.
(CQ Politics). It is clear why the Bush II regime began to spy on Americans well before 9/11 came along, and why they were doing government by blackmail to the very end.

Is it fair to say we can extrapolate and figure out what Cheney had in his large file cabinet, which he took with him when he left Dodge, and therefore, why the Obama Administration is not at liberty to prosecute the Bush II regime even for blatant torture crimes?

UPDATE: John Byrne at Raw Story has some quotes from a NYT editor who denies some of the specifics of the CQ Politics article.

The fundamental reality is that spying on Americans for political blackmail was part and parcel of FBI tactics for decades during J. Edgar Hoover. That was in the days of low technology.

The admitted NSA spying on Americans with very, very, high powered technology these days supports the premise that political blackmail may be at the heart of Obama's not being at liberty to prosecute the most horrendous torture crimes.

I think Obama is squeaky clean, so who is Obama protecting other than the torture freaks?